After dodging repercussions earlier this month when a judge dismissed a domestic assault case against her, U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo found herself making headlines this week in connection with a drunken driving incident involving her husband, ex-NFL player Jerramy Stevens. This incident proved to be enough to goad the U.S. Soccer Federation to suspend Solo from the U.S. Women’s National Team for 30 days.
“During our current national team camp, Hope made a poor decision that has resulted in a negative impact on U.S. Soccer and her teammates,” U.S. Coach Jill Ellis said in a statement posted to USSF’s official Web site on Wednesday. “We feel at this time it is best for her to step away from the team.”
The incident in question occurred early Monday morning, when Solo and her husband were pulled over by police in Manhattan Beach, Calif. Stevens was arrested and charged with driving under the influence; Solo, who was reportedly also drunk and belligerent, was not arrested, but she reportedly still played enough of a role in the incident to raise eyebrows at the USSF.
Two details that may make this incident more unacceptable than previous problems include: 1) the fact that Monday night’s altercation occurred while Solo was attending the current national training camp, and 2) a TMZ report that alleges Stevens was driving a U.S. Soccer official team van at the time of his arrest.
“We’re told soccer officials were especially upset that Hope allowed her husband to drive the team van … potentially leaving the team liable had there been an accident,” TMZ reports.
Solo, 33, and Stevens, 35, formerly of the Seattle Seahawks and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have a tumultuous past. The couple married in November 2012, shortly after he was arrested on suspicion of assaulting Solo, but charges were never brought because there was insufficient evidence. Stevens was arrested again at his Tampa, Fla., home in 2012 for violating his probation in connection with a marijuana possession charge from October 2010.
Solo’s suspension will cause her to miss two games with Team USA, one against France on Feb. 8 and one against England on Feb. 13. She was also released from the remainder of training camp.
Solo put out a statement via Twitter on the suspension on Wednesday evening, noting she both “accepts and respects” USSF’s decision. She also apologized “for disappointing my teammates, coaches and the Federation who have always supported me.”
“I think it’s best for me to take a break, decompress from the stress of the last several months and come back mentally and physically ready to positively contribute to the team,” she said.
While USSF confirms Solo, who has played on two Olympic gold-medal winning teams, will be eligible for reinstatement, the team did not guarantee her return. The decision will come only after review and approval by USSF and Ellis, the USSF said on its Web site.
Meanwhile, some voices in the sports community wonder if Solo’s become too much of a liability. New York Daily News sports columnist Filip Bondy.
“What is left unsaid now is that Solo’s self-destructive behavior has become a great concern to everyone who knows her — including teammates, U.S. officials and coaches,” Bondy writes. “They are trying to stand by her again now, though she is making it more difficult by the day. U.S. Soccer just hopes it can get her to Winnipeg on June 8 for the World Cup opener against Australia, and that her husband won’t be driving the van.”